What's Really Happening - 2004/10/27

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of October 27, 2004  

RESULTS OF ASSOCIATION MEETING, OCT0BER 7, 2004

At the October 7 member meeting, the following officers were re-elected for two-year terms:

President--Steve Abbott

Secretary--Amy Brubaker

Treasurer--Greg Goodhart

Members elected the following faculty to serve as delegates to the OEA Representative Assembly:

Sherry Crawford-Eyen, Mathematics

Dr. Charlie Gallucci, Biological & Physical Sciences

Susan Moran, Technical Communications

Members approved by acclamation the following alternate delegates: Kevin James (Mathematics), Dr. Sue Lape (Communication Skills), Darrell Minor (Mathematics), and Lisa Schneider (Communication Skills).

Also, members voted to amend Section 2.1.2 of the CSEA By-Laws to read as follows in order to allow for a more timely ratification of future contracts:

"The Executive Committee shall convene a special meting of the membership to discuss the tentative contract at least five (5) calendar days prior to the vote, and no sooner than give (5) calendar days after the distribution of the tentative agreement."

The Executive Committee recommended this change because experience with the initial contract showed that the original time line in the By-Laws was unnecessarily long and delayed discussion and ratification of the tentative contract agreement.

UPWARD EVALUATION

Forms for upward evaluation of chairs will be distributed to all full-time faculty next month. A CSEA committee has drafted a brief document for faculty to use to evaluate department chairs. Although CSEA was unable to get upward evaluation of chairs included in the first contract, we believe that we should move forward with an honest attempt to begin some form of feedback that, like other forms of internal self-examination, will improve the College's ability to fulfill its mission.

We recommend that faculty take advantage of this opportunity to provide thoughtful, honest, and helpful feedback in an attempt to improve the relationship between faculty and chairs. These evaluations will not be used in any way to publicly criticize and praise any department chair. Your responses will be confidentially forwarded to chairs only, without comment, and will be reported to no other persons.

ARBITRATION DECISION

We have received the results of the first arbitration hearing conducted under the current contract. A faculty member who had been assigned three 5-hour courses was given the choice of receiving a 15/16 contract or required to teach another 5-hour course as an overload. She was also denied the professional courtesy of having the opportunity to receive reassigned time to make up the missing one hour. Given these alternatives, the faculty member chose to teach an overload 5-hour beginning Spanish course previously assigned to an adjunct (four hours would be paid as an overload). The chair denied this request, claiming she was not qualified to teach that course. The faculty member was initially hired to teach Spanish.

The issues under review were: (1) Can a faculty member be forced to teach more than the 16 hours stipulated by the contract? (2) Can the college determine what overload course the faculty member must teach in order to reach 16 hours? Note: The contract allows the college to assign classes for the first 16 hours. (3) Can the college arbitrarily declare a faculty member unqualified to teach a subject that the faculty member has previously taught?

In this case, the arbitrator narrowly ruled that the college has a "management right" to assign overload courses when necessary to achieve 16 hours. The arbitrator did not rule on the other issues.

Although the Association is disappointed in the arbitrator's ruling, we believe that the use of binding arbitration worked. This decision makes clear that faculty will need to bargain more aggressively to define faculty's rights for seniority, qualifications, and rights to teach or not teach overloads, as well as not be subject to arbitrary and/or punitive actions.

DATAHELL-TIME TO CUT LOSSES

The minutes of the October 19 Leadership Meeting of staff and managers dealing with Datatel issues (available on the Intranet by following the pull-downs through "Colleague Implementation" to "Team Minutes" to "Leadership Team") reveal a range of unsurprising insights. Faculty have had to deal with time-robbing delays in accessing information on Datatel and ongoing problems with students being dropped from class rosters, but the minutes reveal that the real burden has fallen on staff. In addition, the impact on students is apparent in their conversations with faculty, and the impact on the entire College is evident in significant declines in enrollment. With employee morale sinking to new lows and productivity declining in increasingly obvious ways, the following statements about Datatel and its serious problems stand out:

  • "We were working toward real-time web processing for registration through Legacy; we have lost ground with Colleague."

  • "We can no longer do DeReg [de-registration] on a daily basis, as we did with Legacy. This will have a serious effect on [enrollment] reporting. Goal is to be able to run DeReg nightly."

  • "Datatel told us that this had never happened with previous clients."

  • "Performance has been across the board for colleges using Datatel. Schools that are smaller do not have the crisis situation we do."

  • "From Records and Registration: Due to the number of processes that must be run manually, it is impossible to do the same amount of work in the same amount of time [as before]. Workload has increased, and output has decreased."

  • "There are many processes that we have not been able to run, simply due to lack of time."

  • "…[T]heory is that we're down 10% [in enrollment] because students are frustrated because they can't easily/effectively register."

By refusing to acknowledge Datatel's negative impact on Columbus State, the Board of Trustees and the Administration continue to make a bad decision worse. In spite of overwhelming evidence that the Datatel system is a financial, procedural, and public relations disaster, the Administration refuses to address an issue that is reaching crisis proportions. If you don't believe us, ask any staff member. These are the people who support the faculty's work, and their jobs are being made more difficult by Datatel.

The College continues to throw more good money at a bad system rather than to assume the responsibility for a poor decision and take immediate corrective action. (Keep in mind that Summer Quarter grades finally were mailed on October 7-three weeks after summer graduation.) This is not a small matter-we estimate that the administration has misspent between $8 million and $12 million on this ill-conceived project. Besides the money issue of Datatel, we continue to be flummoxed by the amount of time that it takes to retrieve, review, and confirm such things as class rosters and contract approvals. Faculty are now required to have "clearance" just to print labels.

The decline in enrollment affects all faculty. The monetary impact of reduced enrollment (and state subsidy support) increases the likelihood that the College will claim financial hardship when it comes to faculty raises at the bargaining table. It also affects the College's willingness to add new full-time faculty to address the critical imbalance in the ratio of full-time to adjunct faculty. At the same time, decline in enrollment affects adjunct faculty as the College cuts the number of sections being offered, and thus cuts the number of adjunct faculty. At the same time, offering fewer sections (that is, cutting sections at non-peak times) further erodes the accessibility on which Columbus State has built its reputation. That reputation-built by the commitment and effectiveness of Columbus State faculty and staff-is now threatened by an ineffective computer system.

If the Administration wants people to accept a new method for doing anything, the system must be easier to use. This works only if the system is faster so that productivity goes up. Can anyone report that his/her productivity has improved? We await your response.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

Enrollment at the college appears to be down somewhere from 5-10%, depending upon which figures you use, including Datatel's. This translates to approximately 1500-3000 fewer students from Autumn 2003, as well as to a loss of millions in state funding.

According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, the Administration recognizes that the inadequacies of the Datatel system contributed significantly to reduced enrollment. Here's why:

1. Thousands of students experienced registration frustration

2. Slow response time

3. Random time-outs without user notification

4. Limited on-line and telephone registration opportunities

5. Hundreds of students dropped from courses for no apparent reason

As of this date, we have not been able to determine what the actual enrollment was for Summer Quarter, nor can we determine what the actual enrollment is for Autumn Quarter. (In fact, if the number came from the Datatel system itself, we would question its accuracy.) Will we ever be able to believe anything Datatel has to say?

This is no small matter. Our state funding and our reputation are dependent upon our ability to accurately account for student enrollment and the subsequent education subsidies our college depends upon. Failure to accurately account for enrollment numbers cannot be rationalized as normal startup computer glitches, as stated by an administration spokesperson in a Dispatch article.

Registration has begun for Winter Quarter. Help our frustrated students as much as you can.

PRESIDENT'S CONTRACT

In a special meeting, the Board of Trustees granted President Moeller a five-year contract renewal and granted a 4% raise in her base salary. The President has generously committed that raise to a CSCC scholarship fund in her father's memory. However, in a follow-up article in the Columbus Dispatch it was revealed that in addition to the increase in her salary, the President also received an increase of 75% in her "housing allowance," from $1000 to $1750 per month (a $9000 increase). While housing allowances are common for CEO's who use their homes for business/institutional events, that does not appear to be the case here.

While it's true that the College has seen some impressive developments in the past 5 years, the Board seems reluctant top address other festering problems. The combination of the President's two raises represents an 8.3% increase in compensation. We can only hope the College will be just as generous to faculty when we negotiate our next contract.

GOVERNANCE

In the October 2004 UPDATE newsletter, President Moeller put a happy face on the Shared Governance Councils accomplishments for the past two years. However, some faculty who have rotated off the councils were seen giving each other a "high-five" because they were glad to be done with their terms. More than a few described their tenure as a Governance Council member as a test of endurance as they waded through policy after policy that had nothing to do with them, such as the retention and disposal of records and purchasing procedures.

Almost all the "successes" have been almost entirely procedural and have led to few substantive changes in college operation. The list of "approved" issues grows shorter each year (the issues must be approved annually by the President), indicating a "Why bother?" attitude by the campus at large. This past year, the Instructional Council did not have enough "assigned" issues to deal with (though many College issues remain unresolved), and many meetings during Spring and Summer Quarters were canceled for lack of an agenda. In addition, the Instructional Support Council almost became dysfunctional as the chair seldom attended the meetings. Attendance and participation in both councils was dismal. The Councils' lack of success is apparent in a recent push by administrators to try to reduce the number of people required to constitute a quorum for meetings.

Issues such as long-term contracts or teaching schedules for adjunct faculty (the largest number of employees) are completely absent from the agenda of the councils. No faculty issues are ever addressed, despite the fact that many issues not related to collective bargaining continue to erode faculty morale.

True, Council work is considered College Service for purposes of promotion, but the current governance process seems to produce precious little in the way of meaningful progress. And the two Councils are still only recommending bodies. Even after long and hard collective work on an issue by elected representatives, the President still has the right to ignore any recommendation from either Council.

WELCOME CHANGES IN PROMOTION & TENURE? NOT SO FAST.

Many faculty have expressed excitement about proposed changes in Promotion & Tenure Procedures. Sadly, it appears that the changes recommended by the Excellence in Teaching Committee will NOT be implemented this year. After considerable work over several years by a committee chaired by Dean David Hockenbery of the Arts & Sciences Division, as well as committee consultation with CSEA representatives and discussion in the Association-Management Committee, the President has informed the committee that she doesn't think any changes should occur until next autumn.

Committee recommendations were:

1. Faculty apply for tenure in the fourth year.

2. Move the deadline for tenure from November to January.

3. Do away with the point system for promotion.

4. Hold faculty forums to get feedback on suggested changes.

The President's action will require fourth-year faculty to wait until next year to apply for tenure, and fifth-year faculty will still need to follow past procedures regarding tenure and compilation of a second portfolio.

THIS COULD BE ANOTHER ANNOYING DATATEL QUESTION, BUT..

Check your paycheck stubs. The college, over CSEA's objection, is insisting upon deducting medical insurance payments and other items over 18 pay periods, rather than 24 pay periods, as has been the practice in the past. The rationale offered was that it was too much trouble to "individually" process varied faculty contracts and needs. How come deductions like contributions to 403(b) accounts, child care and medical savings accounts, credit union payments, etc., can still be deducted over 24 pay periods? We don't get it.

DID YOU KNOW?

Any unused Personal Leave, up to 16 hours, will be bought back at your daily rate by the college at the end of Autumn Quarter. (Daily Rate = 1/170 of your three-quarter contract) The payment will show up on the January 31 payroll. Any hours beyond 16 hours will be lost unless you use them.

RETURN THE SURVEY

In preparation for the upcoming negotiations, each full-time faculty member has received an email with a list of issues which you should prioritize and send back as soon as possible. We are preparing for the upcoming negotiations now. Let CSEA know what is important to YOU. Send it to Kevin James, DH 422, or Bill Mundy, NH 442.

MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT DEADLINE

This is wonderful benefit if you anticipate continuing or large dental/ medical bills in the coming year. Anticipated expenses can be withheld from your pay on a pre-tax basis, with all the tax savings that come with such deductions. Print the form from the email sent by Ann Page (HR) on October 25. The deadline for returning the form is Friday, October 29.


What's Really Happening is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Steve Abbott, President / x5096
Karl Rieppel, Vice President / x2500
Amy Brubaker, Secretary and Association Representative / x5068
Greg Goodhart, Treasurer / x5431
Darrell Minor, Parliamentarian / x5310
Bill Mundy, Association Representative / x5176
Dr. Jane McDowell, Association Representative / x2656 
Dave Busch, Association Representative / x5079
Dr. Charlie Gallucci, Association Representative / x5499
Leslie Smith, Association Representative / x5302
Dr. Wendy McCullen-Vermillion, Association Representative / x2693
Lisa Schneider, Association Representative / x5124


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